We may play, socialize, work, and thrive in the metaverse in the future, but just not today.
Two weeks ago when I styled my avatar for the first time on Decentraland, I expected my life would never be the same. I thought Web3 would make the wildest of technological wizardry come true — I almost hoped for it.
Sadly for me and all others crossing their fingers, Decentraland’s metaverse, the most popular of them all, is still empty, boring, and not very different from just another online game a teenager would toss away.
In a report titled “Opportunities in the Metaverse,” J.P. Morgan claimed that the metaverse “will likely infiltrate every sector in some way in the coming years, with the market opportunity estimated at over $1 trillion in yearly revenues.” After the report, Decentraland’s LAND token shot up over 8% on the day.
JP Morgan is the first company in the banking industry to enter the metaverse. The bank has established the ‘Onyx’ lounge, named after the bank’s existing suite of Ethereum-based services in Decentraland’s Metajuku Mall (94,21).
Cryptocurrencies associated with the metaverse saw double-digit gains in the wake of Facebook’s announcement that it would rebrand as Meta. Decentraland’s currency MANA led the pack with a 44.6% surge in 24 hours.
It finally felt real. This was when I decided to explore the dream world.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Decentraland has a monthly active user base of about 300,000 people and 18,000 daily users. According to nft-stats.com, Decentraland NFTs were sold 110 times in the last 7 days. The total sales volume for Decentraland was $2.86M. The average price of one Decentraland NFT was $26k. There are 6,789 Decentraland owners, owning a total supply of 97,328 tokens.
As of writing, Decentraland’s cryptocurrency MANA has an LTP of $2.43, and Decentraland has a market capitalization of $4.45B.
Decentraland is Essentially Empty
Each piece of LAND on Decentraland measures 16 meters by 16 meters and is represented as an NFT. The Decentraland territory is divided into grids with Genesis Plaza at the center (0,0) of the grid. All avatars start at Genesis Plaza at every session.
Users can jump in from one place to another from an interactive 2D map. It can be seen in the map that most spaces are empty with scarcely distributed named spaces in between.
The map also shows the concentration of users with red dots. Every time, I have noticed that the highest, perhaps only, traffic is in casinos and a place called Wondermine Crafting Game. There is a reason these two spaces attract the most users. Casinos in Decentraland are gambling spaces where people gamble with cryptocurrencies and chips in hopes of winning more cryptocurrencies. Meanwhile, the Wondermine Crafting Game allows users to mint wearable NFTs after mining little asteroids that fall from the sky every few seconds.
Apart from these places, if you jump to any other place, you will be greeted with dead silence, no other user on sight.
It’s an eerie place.
The Citizens of the Metaverse, Metazens, Aren’t Very Social
Talks about the metaverse involve how people can meet other people without physical barriers. Decentraland also has a chat window on the bottom left corner of the screen with the same purpose. However, the texts that scantily appear here are oftentimes indecipherable, off-topic, and spammy, along with occasional hey’s and hi’s.
I’ve tried befriending users I see wherever I go. The beginners seem eager to ask me about the fastest way to earn from the platform while the seemingly experienced players (ones with weird, shiny wearables) do not accept friend requests.
If they do, they’ll ask you to follow them on Twitter and tag friends to qualify for an NFT giveaway.
There Aren’t Many Things to Do
Decentraland isn’t fun at all at this point. Apart from gambling and mining asteroids for what seems like forever to earn an NFT (I’ve been mining daily for 2 weeks now), there aren’t things to do.
I ventured around and occasionally stumbled across NFT displays and museums that are accompanied only by the absence of another user.
The Platform Survives on Gambling on Top of a Bigger Gamble — the Platform Itself
Like I already mentioned, the highest traffic is seen on casinos, users desperate to make it to the great crypto and NFT dream. However, casinos in Decentraland operate by the same principles as casinos in real life: the odds are in favor of the house.
If the sole purpose of your coming to Decentraland is to gamble crypto money in casinos, do it on a real gambling website with real money. The platform is just the same, if not worse because of the difficulty maneuvering your avatar.
The Graphics Sucks
There is another play-to-earn game that I have ventured across. It’s called the Wilderness and is located at (-45, 107). You shoot Newts or another “evil” player that shoots back at you in order to earn coins, which will then buy you NFTs.
The graphics is ordinary and playing longer than 3 minutes is a challenge. Call yourself lucky if you don’t get motion sickness.
Everybody in Decentraland is in a race to promote their NFTs, win more NFTs, and get rich real quick.
I feel like users in the metaverse have yet to find a more settling use-case of the virtual space. Cryptocurrencies were invented so they could become a medium of exchange and not trading assets for capital gains. Similarly, the metaverse was supposed to be a better leap into a decentralized ecosystem and not primarily a ground for NFT-hungry zombies.
As somebody who sincerely hoped the metaverse was better, I feel like it’s still too early to sell my favorite pair of basketball shoes in the real world and buy sneakers NFT for virtual one-on-one with sumomo#8a8c.